It might currently be a meeting of fourth and seventh in the table but League of Ireland games don’t come much bigger than the Dublin derby between Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians, an intense rivalry which resumes in Tallaght this evening (8pm, live on eir sport).
The bulk of the pressure will be on the home side who were tipped as title contenders before losing to Bohs on the opening night and come into this one on the back of a 1-2 defeat to Dundalk.
“It doesn’t make the Bohs game any bigger that we lost last week,” insists Hoops boss Stephen Bradley: “We have our targets and they don’t change whether we win, lose or draw. We don’t go into games feeling we ‘owe’ teams one, we just want to win the game and this will be no different.”
In a boost for Rovers, Graham Burke has been named the SSE Airtricity Player of the Month for the first time after scoring six goals in March.
Bohs manager Keith Long believes that this Dublin derby can be a law unto itself.
“It’s not always the prettiest spectacle – the priority for both teams is always the result,” he says. “Rovers will have been hurting after us coming from behind to beat them the last time so we have to be prepared for a backlash.”
Derry City will be looking to maintain their dream return to their new-look home when they host Waterford at the Brandywell.
The Candystripes have nine points from three games there so far and the visitors’ task will be made even more challenging since they have to go into battle without key men Stanley Aborah and Bastien Hery both of whom have been hit with punishing sanctions – respectively, four and six-match bans - for their part in the ‘rumble at the Regional’ at the end of their game against Cork City last Friday.
Waterford defender Dave Webster is expecting a searching test on Foyleside: “We know that it’s going to be tough but we’re a close group and we’ll stick together,” he says.
“We’re down a couple of bodies but there are other players that are chomping at the bit to get back into the team, so this will be their chance to make a mark.”
That the Blues overturned a one-goal deficit to beat the champions and go level on points at the top with Dundalk underlined their excellent form on returning to the top flight, something not lost on Derry boss Kenny Shiels.
“You only have to look at the start they’ve made to see what we’re up against,” he says. “I’m expecting a really difficult game against a quality team. We lost down there at the start of the season but we’re in much better shape now than we were then.”
While Cork City will be hoping to bounce back against St Pat’s, the Premier Division’s remaining game tonight has an ominous look about it for basement side Bray Wanderers who, under caretaker manager Graham Kelly, will have to defy the odds if they are to take even a point off Dundalk as they did on the opening night of the season.
“We are focused on making sure things don’t repeat themselves, says Lilywhites skipper Stephen O’Donnell ahead of his side’s trip to the Carlisle Grounds. “We are top of the league on goal difference. We want to drive on and go clear.”
Tonight’s games kick off at 7.45pm unless stated.
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